Members of rail union RMT working for First Great Western are preparing to ballot for industrial action, after First Group announced plans to axe jobs on new inter-city services.
On the new trains, the driver will have sole responsibility for operating the doors, meaning guards are no longer required. The doors could even be operated with the driver as the only member of staff on board, without even an additional train manager.
Catering facilities will also be reduced, with passengers in standard class having access only to an at-seat trolley service, meaning a reduction in buffet-car jobs.
"Driver-Only-Operation" (DOO) is the aim of main train companies, with RMT fighting "Keep The Guard On The Train" campaigns at many companies throughout the UK.
A statement from the union emphasised that the dispute also has passengers' rights to a decent service at its heart: "First Group are working hand in glove with this Government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich in introducing an “Upstairs-Downstairs” service on Britain’s long haul rail services which would condemn the vast majority to pay through the nose to travel in rammed-out carriages where the catering trolley is jammed at one end while the elite glide through the country like extras from Downton Abbey.
"First were recently handed a cash-laden, taxpayer-sponsored contract extension on First Great Western without any competition and clearly see that as a green light to smash up jobs, safety and working conditions as they milk the deal for all its worth."